documenting the optical sounds of '60s pop, Acid Punk & Psychedelia

Aliens, Psychos and Wild Things (Norton) 2001

Rare & Unissued Virginia Garage 1964-1967

Continuing my search for long-forgotten and / or ignored folk-janglers brings me to this obscure compilation on the much loved Norton Records label. This time they focus on mostly rare self-financed, low-budget recordings released on private pressings or previously unreleased acetates.

One such acetate I want to focus on is “She’s Gone” by The Banana (sometimes referred to as The Electric Banana). Their sad and reflective number has secured them honorary Knyghtes Of Jangle status.

In March 1966, Dean Kohler was drafted and his former group The Satellites closed up shop. Dean’s Vietnam sojourn is a fuller account than I can provide here, but in a nutshell, he taught a buddy to play bass on the bottom four strings of a guitar supplied by the ship’s chaplain during a 28-day boat ride across the ocean.

Along with roughly three thousand men were guitars, amps and drums, and so together with a drummer and another guitarist, (the aspiring bass player was not quite ready) Dean’s thrown together threesome played for all aboard on Christmas Day 1966.

Upon landing, Dean and his bassist formed the Electric Banana. Originally to be called The Swinging Banana in homage to Portsmouth’s Swinging Machine, the name was nixed for obvious reasons!

With matching banana yellow uniforms, Vietnamese guitars and a bamboo stalk for a mike stand, the guys were in business, playing at nineteen servicemen’s clubs, alongside each of their rigorous regular schedules at MP’s.

Someone got a hold of the first Velvet Underground LP with the eye-catching banana cover and the band promptly snagged “There She Goes Again” for their repertoire and even recorded it live in the middle of Vietnam, along with Dean’s fine jangler “She’s Gone.” (Simon Trent)

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